Something Like Sound

Tag: Ian Cooke

UMS Preview: “Who?” (7/22) & (7/23)

by on Jul.16, 2010, under Blogs

Before I get to the question “How?” there’s the little matter of who to see at this year’s UMS. While this list is by no means a picking of “who’s hot and who’s not,” it might be useful for those not well versed in the Colorado music scene. This post covers the first two days, July 22-23.


Act So Big Forest Showcase (Skylark, 7pm-12am): Featuring some of the best music that Fort Collins has to offer, the Act So Big Forest collective has their own showcase during the UMS. Swing by the Skylark any time on Thursday to catch the likes of Good Evening Titan, Paean, Sour Boy Bitter Girl, and Candy Claws. Roger, Roll will be closing out the evening’s showcase.

Hot White (3 Kings, 9pm): Don’t be surprised if somebody gets a beer thrown at them during Hot White’s set. The trio packs quite a punch and doesn’t take crap from anybody.

Ian Cooke Band (Hi-Dive, 11pm): The always enjoyable Ian Cooke will be playing a full band set. Hopefully he’ll play “Spicy Chicken Crunchwrap Supreme” or whatever that song is actually called.

Paper Bird (Hi-Dive, 11:55pm): Why not end the evening feeling joyful? Paper Bird takes on the Hi-Dive’s closing spot on Thursday but will also play a set at 7:30 pm on Friday at the Goodwill lot stage.


A Mouthful of Thunder (TS Boardshop, 6:30pm): We haven’t actually had a chance to see Stephen Till’s newest musical project since Hearts of Palm broke up (and started playing again). However, hopes are high for what AMoT’s MySpace page dubs “Christian Rap/Punk/Regional Mexican.”

Action Packed Thrill Ride (Club 404, 7pm): Last time I saw Action Packed Thrill Ride my roommate got me really drunk. As I try to recall, it was pretty great; although the morning after was a bit rough. Maybe this time we’ll all be a little more sober (or maybe not?).

Kaiser Cartel (Hi-Dive, 8pm): I saw KaiserCartel a couple times during last year’s UMS. The Brooklyn-based duo is one of the few out-of-town acts playing, so be sure to catch this set.

Lil Slugger (Brown Barrel Tavern, 9pm): These guys are the only band I know that has their own series of comics. Also, a free full length album to download via Hot Congress.

11:55pm: Take Your Pick: Why do they always do this? There are definitely more than 4 bands I’d like to see all playing at the same time. Oh well, catch them if you can. Houses (Hi-Dive), Achille Lauro (Club 404), Fellow Citizens (Skylark), Young Coyotes (Irish Rover) and more.

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Balancing act: the 2010 Westword Music Showcase

by on Jun.27, 2010, under Concert Reviews

This year’s Westword Music Showcase was a balancing act between seeing groups we’d never seen before and old favorites. The day’s schedule put some of our favorite groups on during the same time-periods, as well as pitting groups we’d heard great things about against groups we knew to be spectacular. The solution we decided on was this: with a few exceptions, we’d spend no more than 25 minutes at a particular set, giving us time to rush to other shows going on at the same time and catch the end of their act. While we hated to leave some of our favorite acts early, we also got to see a good portion of Denver’s amazing music scene.

Mike Marchant

We started the day off at Bar Standard for Mike Marchant’s set. As always, the passionate playing of Marchant and the rest of his band was emotive and powerful. The group ended their set with a medley of songs. As always, Marchant’s much-vaunted songwriting ability and huge stage presence provided a great way to kick off the day.


Every Houses show seems to be exponentially better than their last, and we couldn’t resist sticking around the Bar Standard to catch the beginning of their act. Although the massive band was playing on a stage the size of a small apartment’s living room, their presence filled the whole of the venue. The venue filled up as Houses took the stage, and the group’s unique combination of indie and classic rock didn’t disappoint. Sadly, after we heard some of our favorite songs, we faced our first scheduling conflict of the day and left to see Achille Lauro.

Achille Lauro

This band has become much better live since last time we saw them. They easily filled up the huge space of the Curious Theatre and the on-stage banter between band members filled a void that was present in the past. Although we only caught the end of the set, we were happy to hear some of our favorite songs – “No Breaks” and “Friend’s War,” included in the mix.

Danielle Ate the Sandwich

Though we’ve seen Danielle countless times, with her being up next in the Curious, we couldn’t help but stay for a few of her songs. Charming as ever, Danielle was joined by her occasional bassist Dennis for what is always a treat. We heard a few delightful and quirky songs from her upcoming album Two Bedroom Apartment before leaving for the next act.


After the soothing and relaxed playing of Danielle Ate the Sandwich, Kinetix’s set at City Hall was auditory whiplash. Kinetix may be, musically, the polar opposite of every band we’d seen so far, but the passion and energy they played with easily allowed us to switch gears. While their style makes it temping to call them a jam band, Kinetix is much more than this – interesting and catchy hooks combined well with a powerful beat that got a packed crowd moving. This was the most exciting act we’d seen all day, and kept us going as the day wore on.

Accordion Crimes

Next was Accordion Crimes at Sutra. An incredibly high-intensity band, Accordion Crime’s music matched the packed, hot, and sweaty atmosphere of Sutra. The group was extremely tight and blew us away with their musicality. Despite a few technical hic-ups, the show was very powerful and passionate.

Ian Cooke

The Curious Theatre was running a few minutes later than most of the other venues and we were lucky enough to catch the end of Ian Cooke’s set. Having seen Cooke’s solo set a few weeks ago at the D-Note, it was amazing to see how different he was with a full band. The full band provided a much fuller sound to the songs and gave a wholly different character. Songs that are beautiful from their simplicity in his solo act become beautiful from their exceptional orchestration in his full set. The two or three songs we saw from Cooke were enough to remind us of his incredible musical talent.

Hello Kavita

The 4:15-5:00 slot provided another tough choice – favorites Hello Kavita, Candy Claws and Astrophagus were playing, exceptional national act Neon Indian started at 4:30, and a number of great bands we’d not seen live were playing at the same time slot. While we wanted to get to as many of these bands as possible, we just couldn’t skip the exceptional band Hello Kavita at the Curious. Their set started off a bit disappointingly, their first song or two not being as clean as we’re used to. However, the band seemed to make a few adjustments as their act went on, and the relaxed pop sounds of the band filled the air of the Curious Theatre and made us remember why we like this band so much. Forced to move on to the next act after a few songs, we were very sad to have to miss the end of Hello Kavita’s set.

Candy Claws

Candy Claws’ almost indescribable music is a great treat, and we were happy to head to Vinyl to see their ethereal poppy set. The band seems extremely focused and professional when they perform, but the music they play has a tone of unbridled, child-like joy. The huge band barely fit on the stage they were put on, but they were still able to delight the audience. Their less-than-standard approach to pop music was a perfect preface to Neon Indian, playing on the main stage.

Neon Indian

Neon Indian’s minimalistic psychedelic pop filled the air as we entered the main stage for the first time. While the large crowd enjoyed the music, Neon Indian isn’t fit for an outdoor stage. Too much of the group’s brilliant music was lost due to crowd noise and a lack of boundaries to contain it. Certain sounds, subtle and masterful in their recorded music, were overpowering in the outdoor stage. As such, we left after a few songs, heading indoors again.

Chain Gang of 1974

City Hall was packed for the super-intense music of Chain Gang of 1974. Both die-hard fans and newcomers filled the venue, dancing and screaming to the up-beat music of Kamtin Mohager and back-up musicians. Mohager is more of a rock star than anyone else in the Denver music scene, strutting around the stage like Keith Richards and filling the stage with an intense presence. More importantly, his intensity backs up his music, which is at times psychedelic, at times punk, and at times pop, but always dancy and powerful. This was quite the switch from the previous few groups we’d seen, but it was a welcome change and a great way to set the mood for the passionate performers we’d end our night with.

John Common and the Blinding Flashes of Light

With the Curious Theatre still running a bit late, we were able to catch the end of John Common and the Blinding Flashes of Light’s set. It was standing room only in the venue and the huge crowd wasn’t disappointed. The group lived up to its name, as their intensity of playing was almost disorienting. Although we only caught the last few songs the group played, we’re already looking forward to seeing them again when the UMS comes in July.

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake

While the Curious was full for John Common, it seemed to overflow when Snake Rattle Rattle Snake took the stage. The group brought the crowd to its feet by halfway through its first song, and the band’s pounding dance rhythms kept the audience dancing the whole way through. While we had originally wanted to see some other groups playing at the 6:15 time slot, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake’s music kept us glue to their set (and had we wanted to leave, the massive crowd seemed un-navigable). Easily the highest-energy group of the day, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake was a great way to end the local portion of the showcase.


After seeing an incredible group of Denver musicians, Superchunk’s indie rock/punk playing seemed a bit lacking in intensity. Perhaps this was due to them being outdoors, but the group’s fabled energy didn’t seem to come across. Still, the music was excellent, and more than made up for their lack of intensity.

Ghostland Observatory

Finally, after a surprisingly short wait, the headliners come on the main stage. Ghostland Observatory is famed for their amazing light shows and huge stage presence, and their performance on Saturday showed how deserving of that fame they truly are. While their music was not our favorite style, the performance nevertheless made it a show worth going to. After a long day, only an exceptional show could have kept us interested – and Ghostland Observatory provided exactly what we needed.

“It’s a city holiday today, right?” said a young woman parking her car on S. Broadway Saturday morning. “It’s the Westword Music Showcase – we must be able to park for free!” That sort of passion for music and love for the Denver music scene was the highlight of the day. Each concert we’ve been to since last year’s Westword has seemed to be better than the last, and this year’s showcase was a culmination of the great music scene Denver continues to develop.

Check out The Flat Response for some great recordings from Saturday’s concert, including Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Dirty Projectors, Flashbulb Fires, and Superchunk.

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In Photos: Candy Claws at the D-Note

by on May.29, 2010, under Concert Reviews, Photos

There have been few shows that were as odd as what I witnessed at the D-Note last night. When I say “odd” I do not mean to imply that the evening was a bad experience; by all means it was a lovely night full of wonderful music. It was just that the circumstances found many of the night’s musicians out of their normal spheres.

Danielle Ate The Sandwich

Seeing Danielle Ate The Sandwich is always a treat. Her stunningly beautiful voice and equally matched lyrics tend to leave me awestruck. Unfortunately for Danielle about 3/4 of the patrons at the D-Note were more interested in eating their pizzas than paying any attention to the musician on stage. However she wasn’t one to succumb to the ornery crowd and made light of the situation.

Ian Cooke

Avant-pop cellist/singer-songwriter Ian Cooke was in a casual mood when he took the stage. His set brought the crowd songs about large, flightless Australian birds (and their fruit bat lovers), spicy chicken cruchwrap supremes, in addition to several of his more popular tunes (Vassoon, Music, and Darkening are always my favorites).

Candy Claws

By the time Candy Claws took the stage, the crowd had dwindled to a few committed fans (in fact, there were almost more people on stage than in the crowd). However, the 7 members of Candy Claws appeared unfazed by the poor turnout and proceeded to play several new songs from their upcoming album Hidden Lands. However, they didn’t just play new material; their performance of “Catamaran” was the highlight of the evening.

To see more photos click here.

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A slew of must-see shows

by on May.25, 2010, under Blogs

It’s warm outside, so that means it’s time to go out and hit the shows. Here are a few that feature stellar poster-art and great lineups.

Vampire Hands with Woodsman & Tjutjuna (5/26 at Hi-Dive):  This $6 show pairs 2 of Minneapolis’s finest experimental rock bands with 2 of Denver’s best. Expect to hear new material from both Woodsman and Tjutjuna since both groups have new releases coming out soon (or already out).

DU May Days Musicfest feat. Shiny Toy Guns & Chali 2na (5/27 at Driscoll Greens): Nothing says awesome quite like “free.” The DU May Days Musicfest is great for several reasons: 1. The bands (the lineup is pretty solid and keeps getting better every year). 2. Free food (usually better than what you’d expect). 3. It reminds CSM students that we haven’t been in school for the past month and that DU still has another couple weeks to go.

Danielle Ate The Sandwich, Ian Cooke, & Candy Claws (5/28 at D-Note): Arvada won’t know what hit them after this show. It’s an invasion of sorts: Fort Collins folk singer-songwriter Danielle Ate The Sandwich will bring her unique ukulele styling while fellow Ft. Collinites Candy Claws play their unique style of ambient-indie-dream-pop. Ian Cooke’s amazing cello work will tie everything together quite nicely.

Hot Congress & Long Spoon block party (6/5 at Meadowlark & Larimer Lounge): This mini-music-fest showcases some of the best in what Denver’s music collectives have to offer. The lineup is ridiculously stacked and the evening’s events will feature prize giveaways and food vendors. For more information and a more in-depth preview of the block party visit the Hot Congress website.

Westword Music Showcase (6/19 in the Golden Triangle neighborhood): Westword just announced the full lineup for their annual music showcase and it is shaping up to be the don’t-miss event for June. They’re basically taking over an entire neighborhood for a day of great music and entertainment. Added bonuses this year include cheap tickets (only $15 in advance), more all-ages venues and a VIP option.

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Festival Review: The UMS, Day 2

by on Jul.25, 2009, under Concert Reviews

I really should title this post “Julie Davis: The Hardest Working Musician in Denver.” I swear, everywhere I went last night I couldn’t escape the bassist/lead singer from Bela Karoli. Turns out she started the evening with a solo set (I didn’t catch), then I witnessed her playing with Dan Craig, Bela Karoli (obviously), and The Wheel. Kudos to you Julie, it takes a real trooper to do what you did. Ok, now on with the review.

To begin, I took it a little easier today. I rolled in to the Baker neighborhood around 7:30 and tried to catch some of the Josephine & The Mousepeople set at Indy Ink. The bit that I stayed for was enjoyable, but the non-traditional space suffered from 2 things: Deafening the people in the front and obscuring the view of everyone else (other than that it was great). From there I wandered over to the Hi-Dive (which seems to be a black hole to me, I am continually drawn towards it, with no hope of escaping). I caught some of Dan Craig‘s set, then stuck around for Elin Palmer. Palmer is absolutely charming, from her eclectic instruments (pictured is a traditional Swedish folk-instrument), to her soft voice and songs in Swedish, I must say I enjoyed the set.

Next was Bela Karoli, with special guest Ian Cooke. As the night continued, the Hi-Dive seemed to get more crowded and hot with each set. I don’t believe they had to turn people away, but there was certainly not a spare place to stand for this avant-pop group. The set was solid (as usual), but the addition of an extra cello and a keyboard really rounded things out.

I overheard someone say “There’s only one band in Denver, but it has all of these different manifestations.” Agreed. About half the people from Bela Karoli were on stage to perform with The Wheel. It seems like every time I see The Wheel, their sets just get better (I attribute this, in part, to the fact that they’ve gone to a full-band lineup).

Finally it was past midnight and things started to dissapate slightly. However, I had waited all night to see my favorite local group, Houses. When I listened to their Spring EP, I was hooked: flowing melodies and feel-good tunes. Andy Hamilton & Co. were not the ones to dissapoint that night, as they played through a number of new songs (from their forthcoming Summer EP, out August 7). While I loved the Spring tunes they played, the Summer stuff was even better. Tighter guitar parts and dancability have been added to the Houses mix: let there be much rejoicing. By the time they finished it was past 1:30, it was time to go home.

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Local Bands You Should Know

by on Apr.17, 2009, under "Best of" Lists, Blogs

Edit: It looks like the Hot IQs are breaking up after their June 19 show at the Bluebird (we learned the news from Backbeat Online here) I know we already mentioned this as a must see show, but we’re moving it up to “do not miss this show or you will never forgive yourself” status.

Further Edit: We took Fear Before, 3Oh!3, and Flobots off the list because you probably already know them.

So last month we had extensive coverage of one of my favorite DIY bands from Denver, Young Coyotes. This got me thinking, “Who are the other groups people should know about?” Well, then today Dave Herrera over at Westword asked us to send in our nominations for the 2009 Westword Music Showcase, here’s who we chose. You might have heard of some of these groups, some you don’t know. Hopefully we’ll be able to work with these bands to bring you the best new music from the Denver scene all summer long.

1. Young Coyotes
2. Hot IQs
3. Ian Cooke
4. Pee Pee
5. Bad Weather California
6. Born In The Flood / The Wheel
7. The Photo Atlas
8. Hearts of Palm (have apparently broken up too)
9. Meese
10. Andrea Ball
11. Richard Ingersoll
12. Danielle Ate The Sandwich
13. The Heyday
14. Paper Bird
15. Trace Bundy
16. Bela Karoli
17. Laura Goldhamer
18. Roe
19. Brave Saint Saturn
20. Rob Drabkin

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Concert Review: Danielson at the Hi-Dive

by on Nov.10, 2008, under Concert Reviews


Music can be one of the truest forms of self-expression. A prolific songwriter has the ability to convey thoughts and emotions through song. Love, compassion, hope and healing were just a few of the driving factors that led Daniel Smith to begin his musical experiment known as Danielson. Smith, whose strong Christian roots and incredible personal story act as the backdrop for his songs, performed a stunning set at the Hi-Dive last Saturday.

The Hi-Dive has really started to grow on me. After seeing Ra Ra Riot there several weeks ago, I’ve begun to appreciate the cozy atmosphere, free water and excellent sound mixing. The entire night felt like a comfortable gathering of old friends. Ian Cooke, a Denver cellist and songwriter, started the evening with an amazing set. Not only was his instrumental performance nearly flawless, but his smooth voice hit every note. Cooke used a variety of looping effects to create multiple harmonies with himself, a real treat for the ears. At the end of his set, the crowd called for more songs and he extended his set, something I have never seen happen with an opening act.

Daniel Smith & Nedelle

Up next was Cryptacize, an indie-pop band from the Asthmatic Kitty record label. Their simple sound and comically small instruments made for a good show. Catchy hooks and flowing guitar riffs kept the music upbeat.

Finally, it was time for Danielson. Taking the stage in matching pilot’s uniforms, the seven members of Danielson filled the tiny stage at the Hi-Dive. “This song is a clap-along,” said Daniel Smith on multiple occasions throughout the show. In fact, there were clap-alongs, snap-alongs and sing-alongs; all of which got the audience involved and made the set enjoyable. Rather than trying to decode Smith’s religious undertones and unique falsetto, I sat back and enjoyed the show. To celebrate the release of the group’s recently released retrospective album, Danielson focused on playing their best material from the last ten years.

Denver's own Ian Cooke

Playing through songs such as “Idiot Boksen” and “Flip Flop Flim Flam,” Smith and company performed with intensity and sincerity. Danielson ended their set with “Five Stars and Two Thumbs Up” before performing two more songs as an encore (including “Did I Step On Your Trumpet,” one of my personal favorite Danielson tunes). For their performance, I give Danielson’s Denver tour stop five stars and two thumbs up.

Edit: Full bootlegs of this concert are avaiable at

Video from the show: Idiot Boksen

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